Policy Primer: Women’s health


Adam Schasel, Staff Reporter

Although the 2012 Election is looming nearer and nearer, many students find themselves asking “Why should I care?” The Red Ledger will be profiling a hot-button issue featured this election season every week until Nov. 6, and provide each candidate’s stance on that issue, background context and how it could apply to you.




There isn’t a single politician in Washington who is against addressing health concerns specifically relating to women. When women’s health is mentioned at a debate, during a political convention, or on a cable news channel, the speaker is referring to the very politicized issues of abortion and contraception.




Simply put, it’s crucial.  Historically, women vote more than men in presidential election and it’s a demographic that, as of this past September, President Barack Obama leads by about twelve points. Both candidates have been doing their best to court the female vote: Romney and Obama significantly featured their wives at their respective political conventions, where they gave speeches about the trials and tribulations of being a mother and how each candidate sympathizes with women more so than their opponent.




The passage of the Affordable Care Act and the conservative backlash have placed women’s health as more prominent an issue than it has ever been before in a presidential campaign.

This isn’t terribly surprising.  Obama’s Affordable Care Act mandates that employers offer birth control to female employees as a part of their insurance plans. The Obama administration has taken fire from Republicans and other social conservatives who object on moral grounds, and claim that being forced to provide birth control to employees can contradict a business’s religious affiliation and is therefore a violation of their First Amendment rights.

The result of this is an interesting battle of perspectives between Left and Right. Democrats charge Republicans with putting politics in women’s bodies, while Republicans are assailing their counterparts for their perceived abuses of the First Amendment.

Obamacare additionally provides funding for community health centers such as Planned Parenthood, a private organization dedicated to educating individuals about family planning and generally improving women’s health by giving cancer screenings, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, dispersing birth control, etc: normally uncontroversial stuff, but Republicans fear that federal dollars are being spent to fund abortions.

The Stupak-Pitts amendment to the Affordable Care act prohibits federal funding toward abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, or endangering the mother. But Planned Parenthood does perform abortions; accounting for approximately 3 percent of all patient care provided. They just don’t use government money to do it. However, many conservatives object to federal spending going to places that perform these controversial practices.




Sorry guys, I’ve got nothing for you. But girls should pay attention to what each candidate is saying to them. According to Republicans, President Obama is attacking your right to worship however you choose. But Democrats claim your body is under siege by their Republican counterparts in Congress.




Since his strong performance at the first presidential debate Romney has shifted to a more moderate stance on abortion, claiming that there is no legislation relating to abortion that would become part of his agenda as president- a proclamation that he would not alter current abortion laws. That being said, he is against the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that employers provide birth control to female employees as a part of their health insurance plans.




Obama has taken his party’s stance on the issue. He is pro-choice and supports the amendment in his signature healthcare law that requires employers to offer birth control in their insurance plans.


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